Late last night the Scottish Government issued updated Covid-19 guidance for the Hospitality Sector, following the announcement on 7thOctober of further restriction, amongst industry confusion and heated debate over the unheard-of term “Licensed Cafe”.
Temporary measures, planned to last for 16 days, commence for licensed premises at 6.00 pm tonight and will run until Sunday 25th October inclusive.
However, the Government also updated the guidance Q&A section to reflect the changes and those pertaining to the Licensed Trade are:-
Opening/closing and alcohol
Q. If I am a pub or restaurant in the central belt not selling alcohol, can I chose to be a licensed café to operate between 06:00 and 18:00?
A. No, the regulations will define what is a ‘café’ for clarity.
(the regulations have not been published yet).
Q. Do premises that have a license to sell alcohol for part of their business i.e. a store, café or restaurant, need to close their entire operation on the basis of having a license?
A. No, all licensed premises (except cafes) in the central belt must close for the temporary period. However, larger premises which have licensed operations on site, such as a store with a bar or restaurant, need only ensure those licensed operations are closed (except cafes with no alcohol sales) and do not need to close the other parts of the businesses.
Q. I have bookings for weddings/have our wedding booked during the temporary period – can this go ahead?
A. Yes, regulations allow for life events to proceed as planned, up to 22:00 in line with existing guidance and alcohol can be served. This also applies to events where advanced planning is clearly not possible i.e. funerals/wakes. Maximum limit of 20 persons within a regulated setting still applies.
Q. For premises allowed to open does 18:00 mean doors closed with all customers departed or is there an eating/drinking up period?
A. Premises permitted to trade until 18:00 must be closed by this time. Final orders will therefore need to be planned to ensure this requirement is met.
Q. Can premises offer alcohol as off-sales alongside food as takeaway or collection?
A. Yes, if they are already licensed to sell alcohol, and are complying with the terms of their license. Arrangements must be in place to ensure there is a clear and safe ordering system in place, observing rules on physical distancing, and that customers are not queuing in the premises.
Q. Can takeaways still deliver off-sales and can people still buy alcohol to consume in their own homes?
A. Yes, if this complies with their existing license.
Q. Is room service permitted in hotels, with or without alcohol?
A. Yes, room service can continue to be offered with alcohol, including mini-bar.
Q. I am a café operator in the central belt with a license to sell alcohol – do I need to close completely even although alcohol sales are incidental to my normal operations?
A. No, the regulations allow you to open between 06:00-18:00 so long as you do not sell alcohol.
Q. Is Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) permitted?
A. No, it is not possible to consume alcohol in either licensed premises or unlicensed premises in cafes, bars, or restaurants during the temporary period of restrictions.
Q. Are university and college canteens that are licensed required to close, either completely in the central belt or after 18:00 elsewhere?
A. No, student facilities will not be required to close, but cannot sell alcohol
Q. For premises permitted to offer outdoor service for food and drink, can customers still use indoor welfare facilities?
A. Yes, welfare facilities can still be used as normal, within existing guidance for physical distancing and enhanced hygiene procedures.
Q. For premises permitted to offer outdoor service for food and drink can customers enter premises to place orders?
A. Premises should put in place processes and measures to ensure service is only provided outdoors. If it is necessary for orders to be placed at a designated indoor area, then this should be carefully managed with only one person entering at a time and with service then delivered to table outdoors. There should be no queueing or customers standing around internally waiting for service.
Q. Can people bring in alcohol from the supermarket to their hotel room?
A. Yes, people are free to consume alcohol in private in hotel rooms.
Q. Can hotels accept bookings for food from non-residents?
A. Out-with the central belt, yes during operating hours for guests 06.00 – 18:00 and for residents 06:00 – 22:00 – within the central belt hotels must only serve residents who will not be able to invite guests to dine with them.
Q. We are a visitor attraction that offer samples of alcoholic drinks as part of the tour experience i.e. whisky – can we continue to do this, or do we need to stop?
A. If you are a licensed premises and the cost of these samples is incorporated into the ticket price i.e. is a sale for consumption on the premises, then you cannot offer this service for the time-being. The off-sales can still operate.
Q. Can licensed premises still offer indoor spaces for hire after 18:00 for things like fitness classes etc.?
A. No, the licensed premises must close at 18:00.
Q. Why are licensed cafes being allowed to open, albeit without selling alcohol?
A. The policy decision on licensed cafes relates to preventing social isolation in our communities. The restrictions have been put in place to limit the gathering of people and therefore the chance of transmission of COVID-19, but it is recognised that cafes may be, for some, the only means by which to ensure they are not cut off from all social contact.
Q. Can hotels serve residents who are using lodge accommodation in their restaurants?
A. Yes, these would be considered ‘residents’ for the purpose of providing meals (no alcohol)